IT WAITS Distributed by: Anchor Bay Entertainment Film Year: 2005 Film Length: 88 minutes Genre: Horror Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 Colour/B&W: Colour Audio: English 5.1 Surround English 2.0 Surround Subtitles: none Film Rating: not rated Release Date: May 23, 2006. Film Rating: / Scare Factor: / Cerina Vincent (Danny St. Claire), Dominic Zamprogna (Justin Rawley) Written by: Richard Christian Matheson & Thomas E. Szollosi Directed by: Steven R. Monroe It lurks…It prowls… I figured that I should start this review with the premise of the story, one that is alike many other horror movies, but also the kind that makes horror movies fun. ”Deep in the woods something lurks, something prowls, something waits for you…”. So how many horror movies have to do with a terrifying secret? How many take place in the woods? I don’t think any amount of severed limbs from all horror movies added up can equal the amount of horror films that deal with dark secrets in the woods. Add It Waits to that list. BUT WAIT! Don’t stop reading yet! I know you are thinking “once you’ve seen one horror film like this, you’ve seen them all.” While that can be true, I don’t want to say that about It Waits. Why? I thought this movie was very entertaining and worth my 88 minutes of admission. As the title suggests, It Waits is a creature movie. Like Alien, it does a decent job to not show the creature very often and leaves much of it to the imagination. This way neither you nor I will think it’s a guy running around in a rubber suit. So the film is effective in this regard. We see the carnage that this beast makes and we see lots of ripped up bodies, blood and heads as this beast messes with our minds…slowly torturing the actors who don’t know if they’ll die. In horror films, all things come to and end…for whom? Well, that’s really the unknown, isn’t it? This is a low budget film shot in about 20 days just outside of beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. (By the way, if you haven’t paid my country a visit yet, I urge you to pick British Columbia as your destination of travel). To complement this gorgeous scenery is our lead actress Cerina Vincent, whom some of you may remember from Cabin Fever. I have Cabin Fever in my DVD collection, but like many titles it’s another one that has gone unwatched because there are too many movies and so little time. But now I may put that title up at the top of my list just to watch Ms. Vincent, not only because she’s one great looking girl, but she’s one real actress too (she even admits it in the special features – she says it on her shirt “they’re real and they’re spectacular!”). In all seriousness, she does carry this whole movie by herself and that is a difficult task to perform. She’s not quite the Ripley of Alien because Vincent, who plays Danielle St. Clair in this film, has a trauma from the past…a sort of negative energy that puts her energy towards drinking rather than her job as a park ranger, as she sits high in her lookout somewhere deep in the mountains. Her character isn’t strong from the start, but gains a bit of confidence part way through the film. The film begins with a team of students who look for the cave based on an ancient Indian myth. The myth speaks of a sort of demon that has been locked up deep in a cave for over 1000 years. You can guess that these students were eager to see if this was true. Surely, their actions caused them to be ripped apart to pieces and no one else in the park knew what actually happened. They think a deranged killer did the job. It’s only a matter of time before this beast hunts others – and Danielle will soon find out the terror that it can cause. It likes to tease and torture and take pleasure in people’s suffering. Sounds like a good load of fun for a horror flick, doesn’t it? I didn’t find this movie terrifying or very scary. There are a few times when I felt like I was going to jump, but I admit I’m fairly desensitized so it doesn’t affect me as much as it would for others. Also, a “wish” that I have for this film would be to cut out long shots of the creature because even though we don’t see a lot of it throughout the film, there are two or three scenes that do show extended takes of it and it makes it a little less terrifying. But I did find this movie satisfying…it was well acted, well paced, and had a few surprises. Hamilton, Ontario native Domenic Zamprogna pulled off the job of being a concerned but not whiny boyfriend to support the lead actress. The two of them had chemistry (more chemistry than Tristan + Isolde). Tie in the fact that it was co-written and produced by (I’ll name-drop here) Stephen J. Cannell, we’ve got not a bad flick. VIDEO QUALITY / I admit it – I was completely fooled when watching this DVD. I thought this film was shot on HD cameras. It looks freakin’ great. The quality of this DVD closely matches that of any network series HD broadcast minus a bit of resolution. This DVD transfer is 100% clean of any bit of film grain, dirt, whatever. It is THAT clean. I was shocked that the original photography was 35mm film. It also makes me wonder why all movies can’t be this clean looking when transferred to DVD. There are just a few compression artefacts that show up as a sort of digital smearing. When the camera pans across the green trees and grass in the forest, the colourful green leaves and the plants in the distance seam to smear or drag for a moment leaving it looking a bit undefined. This aside, the transfer is flawless. There is no edge enhancement or other artefacts I can think of. Colours are extremely natural, actually probably the most natural that I’ve seen in any movie for a long time (because we know how much tinkering is done with picture quality these days). Contrast is very good and black levels seem just a little higher than I’d like leaving the deepest blacks out. The aspect ratio has been reformatted to 1.78:1 from 1.85:1. AUDIO QUALITY / The audio doesn’t live up to the same presentation as the video. There are two options here: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0. I listed to the 5.1 soundtrack, although I think the 2.0 presentation may have been a bit more satisfying. It seems that the sound mixers forgot about the surround channels because any activity that could have happened back there was too quiet to be effective. I didn’t hear them so they definitely didn’t grab my attention. The front soundstage is active but fragmented sounding. While there is some foley and ADR, a lot of the sound in this film is taken off the shoot. It is very noticeable because the fidelity is different, somewhat restrained, and not as intelligible. I was surprised that during many of the action sequences all of the sound’s dynamic range seemed to be compressed to a single low volume. There is very little “ups and downs” with the sound level in this movie. At least it does sound balanced and not bright or aggressive like a Hollywood blockbuster I recently reviewed. I won’t say the name of the film but its initials are Tristan + Isolde. And the subwoofer does have some duty in this film; it gives a little extra pound when the creepy moments arrive. TACTILE FUN!! / TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: ON I liked the transducer on in this film. These things work great for horror films if used sparingly as it was in this film. When the creepiness comes on screen, it’s even more effective to get a good kick in the butt because you think something is grabbing your…you know. It gives a little more height to your jump. I recommend keeping your transducer on. SPECIAL FEATURES / Included on this disc is the film’s trailer and an approximately 20-minute featurette titled Blood on the Pines. The featurette is not bad and features a lot of behind the scenes footage and crams as much in as possible. It is spread apart with interviews from Cerina Vincent, Stephen J. Cannell and director Steven R. Monroe. The video is enhanced for widescreen televisions but it most certainly is taken from SD cameras. It doesn’t look so hot… Also, don’t forget to listen to the audio commentary from director Steven R. Monroe and actress Cerina Vincent. IN THE END... As I said before, I liked this movie, LOVED the video transfer on this DVD and on top it all it comes with an ultra-creepy looking case with the creature on the front. The creature somewhat protrudes from the case so you can get a good feel of it…just make sure it doesn’t come out to tear your flesh apart. I hear this thing is pretty good at doing that… Michael Osadciw April 25, 2006.